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Biosystems. 1987;20(1):37-48.

Parity violation and the origins of biomolecular handedness.


The violation of parity by the weak interactions ensures that enantiomeric chiral molecules have inequivalent energies, one being inherently stabilized with respect to the other. These parity-violating energy differences have been calculated for a number of fundamental biomolecules including a series of alpha-amino acids, polypeptide structures, and a representative of the sugar series together with its variation over a possible prebiotic reaction path leading to alpha-amino acids. In each case the natural enantiomer found in terrestrial biochemistry was shown to be intrinsically stabilized and preferred over its unnatural enantiomer. The significance of these results in accounting for the prebiotic origins of the terrestrial biomolecular homochirality is discussed and the possible consequences of parity-violating energy differences in mineral catalysts during the prebiotic era considered.

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